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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My 25 month old son takes a gym class once a week and loves

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My 25 month old son takes a gym class once a week and loves it. For the last month, the 5 year old brother of another student has been coming with his mother to watch his sister in the class. I'm getting really frustrated with his behavior. Here's an example of what happened last night:

*We arrived a few minutes early, and one of the rooms was closed off with a rope. My son obviously can't read, and he can walk right under the rope, so he started walking into the room. I stopped him and was standing at the entrance of the room with him. The 5 year old got right in my son's face and loudly said "NO... YOU CAN'T GO IN THERE." I told the 5 year old that we were just looking at things and then walked away.

*The kids were putting on safety harnesses at the climbing wall. I told my son that he needed to put his 'belt' on. The five year old looked at me and said "It's a harness, not a belt.' I bit my tongue and calmly told him that my son doesn't know what a harness is, but he knows what a belt is.

*My son said something to the teacher. I'll admit it was hard to understand, because he's only two. The five year old looked at the teacher and said 'What did he say? I can't understand anything he says.'

*They started walking over to the vaulting area, and my son stopped to look at an animal mural on the wall. The five year old went up to him and said "You're supposed to be over there."

After thirty minutes of this little boy telling us everything my son was doing wrong, I was a bit annoyed. I was even more annoyed by the fact that his parents acted as if nothing was wrong. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but as a child I was taught to be gentle with other kids and not to correct adults. His grandmother was there last night, and she taught elementary school for years. But the only time she corrected her grandson was when he picked on his three year old sister.

I'm looking for some advice on how to handle things next week when I see this little boy again.
Hello and thank you for consulting JA,

This child is what I call "the keeper of the rules". The rules are very important to him and he goes to many lengths to enforce them. He does not distinguish that this is not socially appropriate. His parent's probably do correct him at times but it is very hard to change the thinking of these children. These children also think in black and white.

I would try to view this as involuntary behavior of the 5 year old. Try not to be annoyed by this. I think your replies have been appropriate and I would continue to help him see thing in a different way.

For example "I can't understand him": Yes 2 year old children are still learning.
Your supposed to be here: "yes he is just 2, he likes to look at pictures first.
That kind of thing.

I hope this helps to tolerate this "keeper of the rules" personality and please feel sorry for his parents because they are dealing with this constantly.

Warm regards
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